Outside of my current home in Los Angeles, there are three other cities in America that I could see myself living in: Chicago (my home and native land), Austin, and Portland (Oregon, not Maine). I’ve loved Portland since the first time I came here roughly ten years ago, long before it was known as #PDX and became the basis of a very funny TV show. I love the laid back vibe and the love of all things handmade. I love the crisp Fall air and the city-surrounded-by-forest vibe. Yesterday, I got to spend the day in one of my favorite cities in the US and this is how you have a supremely Portland day:
1. Make Your Home Base the Hippest Place in Town
Check in to the Ace Hotel in the old Clyde Hotel building in Downtown Portland, just a block from the Pearl District. It’s not trying to be cool. It just is. Actually, it’s trying pretty hard, too, and that’s part of the charm. Every detail seems curated here. The rooms seem like recreations of mini Brooklyn lofts and there’s a record player ready and waiting for your home DJing needs. Get yourself one of their spacious suites overlooking Powell’s Books, take a shower in their freestanding tub with white subway tile on the floor, and start your own indie death metal polka band.
2. Fill Your Belly with Edible Love
Have lunch at Lardo, Portland’s home of amazing sandwiches. They’ve got a full menu of fantastic choices, but I went with the classic Porchetta, a wonderfully flavorful roasted pork topped with a vibrant green gremolata to off-set the richness. It wouldn’t be Portland without some beer, so grab a flight of four for $8 and try out some local favorites.
3. Pick Up Some PDXessories
Get some shopping done at Powell’s City of Books and MadeHere PDX. Powell’s has over a million books for your reading pleasure and it’s a Portland must, in my opinion. MadeHere offers products that are made right here in Portland, so if you’re down with local flavor (and you have to be up here), then this is a great stop for all kinds of artisanal goodness in one place. Handcrafted wooden iPhone stands, specialty salts, and sweaters galore are just a few of the treasures you can pick up here.
4. Fill Up on Sweet Treats
In Portland, you need to snack like there’s no tomorrow. Ice cream at Salt & Straw, doughnuts from Blue Star, or the best selection of chocolate bars you’ve ever seen at Cacao. This is a city that seems to encourage eating at all hours of the day and I endorse that fully. Above, you can see two options from Blue Star, a raspberry basil old fashioned and a decadent Valrhona chocolate crunch filled with vanilla curd. The raspberry one was truly exceptional.
5. Discover Culinary Greatness
Portland is one of the best eating cities in America. Amazing restaurants seem to be on every corner and the hard part is narrowing your choices down to just one. After meeting Greg and Gabi Denton back in March at The Broadmoor’s Taste & Savor event in Colorado Springs, I knew I had to try their restaurant OX. I’m so glad I did. I’m not kidding when I say it was one of the best meals I’ve had all year. The skirt steak was amazing, the pork chop was perfectly cooked, and a side of orca beans may have changed my life (for good). Their Argentinian grill puts an amazingly light layer of smoke on everything it touches and out of many, many dishes that I tried, there wasn’t a bad one on the table. I’ll be talking about this meal for a while.
6. Go to Sleep.
Most people would tell you to find some of Portland’s excellent craft cocktail bars or breweries, but I think you’re better off doing that the next day. You just filled up on Portland’s greatness and it’s time to rest your head and get ready for tomorrow. Will you go to a Portland Timbers game? A visit to the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry? Sure. But start it all with a visit to Pine State Biscuits, my favorite breakfast in the city where you can find North Carolina-style fried chicken biscuit sandwiches all day long.
Bye, Portland. Until next time. Or until I actually move here, which may be sooner than I think.